Taking Apart the TTC (Part II): Operators Workload


As we discussed in the previous entry, TTC fares and operator wages have grown in lockstep, at about double the rate of inflation, and double the rate of most Ontarians’ household incomes. Today, we want to answer another question: are TTC operators working harder than before, or are they in the enviable position of working the same—or less—while making more, even adjusting for inflation?

To answer this question, I’ve come up with three metrics that serve as a useful proxy for operator workload: trips/employee, employees/vehicle, and employees/(million) kilometer operated. It’s worth emphasizing that these are all proxies, and not actual measures of how hard operators are truly working. Moreover, not all employees are operators (but all operators are employees…). Finally, with the increased misery from all those additional irate riders, the numbers might not tell the whole story—angrier riders will make even a shorter workday seem longer. Still, these metrics give a reasonable indication of how much operators are responsible for delivering in a given unit of time (year/week/day).

Let’s begin with trips/employee. In 2003, the average operator provided 38,794 trips per year. If we assume 47 weeks of work per year, 5 days of work per week, and 7.5 hours per day, that’s 825 trips per week, 165 per day, or 22 per hour. This is, of course, an average—the subway operator will obviously provide more trips than the bus driver, all else being equal. In either case, by 2012, the same operator was providing 40,349 trips. This means they were working harder than in 2003—which is good for us—but less hard than in 2007, when they were delivering 40,933 trips/year.



Next, the number of employees per vehicle has risen from 4.03 in 2003 to 4.13 in 2012. To be sure, the relationship between employees and vehicles is not totally clear from the outset—there is less than one operator per subway car (given that several cars form a train), where there is one operator per bus. That said, 76% of vehicles were not subway/rapid-transit cars in 2012, so these findings should broadly hold. In other words, there are more operators and (relatively) fewer vehicles to operate—so those operators are probably working at least a little bit less, or at least spending less time delivering rides. As with the trips/employee metric, there is some improvement over 2010, but not over 2003.

Finally, number of employees per (million) kilometers operated has grown, from 54.1 in 2003 to 58.1 in 2012, and in this case, almost without dipping at all. Of course, this might suggest that service has become more intensive along the routes that are operated—and as we’ll discuss next time, there is some truth to this. But together with the other two metrics, at most we can say that there’s been a mixed impact on employees’ workload over the period from 2003 to 2012.

To sum up today’s findings, TTC operators are not in a clear manner working more today than in 2003 (at least in terms of what they deliver), despite pay that has outpaced both inflation and wage growth for the rest of the province. In other words, from today’s perspective, the increased amount that we pay at the farebox is not reflected in employees who are shouldering an obviously greater burden. Next week, we’ll look at whether we are getting value for our money from another perspective—whether our rides are becoming quantitatively more miserable.

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